Fun Common Hawk-cuckoo Facts For Kids

Akinwalere Olaleye
Oct 20, 2022 By Akinwalere Olaleye
Originally Published on Sep 02, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao
To learn more about this bird, read these common hawk-cuckoo facts.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.2 Min

The common hawk-cuckoo (Hierococcyx varius), also known as the brainfever bird, is from the family Cuculidae and genus Hierococcyx. The common hawk-cuckoo range consists of Pakistan, Nepal, Himalayan foothills, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka. It is considered a resident bird in South Asia. This common hawk-cuckoo bird inhabits tree groves, garden land, and deciduous and semi-evergreen forests types of habitats. The breeding season for this bird is from March to July in India and in Sri Lanka, it is from January to April. This brainfever bird is known to be a brood parasite, that is, it lays eggs in the nests of other birds and relies on the hosts to take care of its chicks. Hence, the chicks are taken care of by the foster parents. The common hawk-cuckoo hosts include laughing thrushes and babblers. Babblers are preferred because the breeding time or the breeding season of the two species takes place around the same time. It is a medium-sized cuckoo species and is ash gray on the upper parts and whitish below. It also has a distinguishable yellow-colored eye-ring. Subadults are known to have streaked breasts and brown marks on the belly and these marks are considered large like young shikra. They share a resemblance with shikra. This bird is confused with hawks and the large hawk-cuckoo sometimes as they share a resemblance and are related as the latter belongs to the same genus. The style used for flying is flap and glide. The Hierococcyx varius (common hawk-cuckoo) is known to feed on insects like locusts, moths, grasshoppers, lizards, berries, and figs. The male call and the female call are different and can be identified. The call of this species is quite popular as the male calls are loud and go on for hours. It is very fascinating to read and learn about the common hawk-cuckoo birds and if you like, read about the hawk and black-billed cuckoo, too

Common Hawk-Cuckoo Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a common hawk-cuckoo?

The common hawk-cuckoo (Hierococcyx varius) is a type of bird.

What class of animal does a common hawk-cuckoo belong to?

It is classified under the class of Aves of birds.

How many common hawk-cuckoos are there in the world?

There is no total estimation of the population for this bird available.

Where does a common hawk-cuckoo live?

It is not known to be endemic and the range of the common hawk-cuckoo (Hierococcyx varius) consists of the Indian subcontinent. This range includes Pakistan, Nepal, Himalayan foothills, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka. It has been recorded that the population found in India migrates to Sri Lanka to spend its winter. Generally, it is a resident bird in South Asia, but some populations that are found in high altitudes and arid regions are known to be migratory ones.

What is a common hawk-cuckoo's habitat?

The habitat of the common hawk-cuckoo (Hierococcyx varius) includes tree groves, garden land, and deciduous and semi-evergreen forests.

Who do common hawk-cuckoos live with?

Not a lot is known about this bird being solitary or living in groups or pairs.

How long does a common hawk-cuckoo live?

The common hawk-cuckoo life expectancy is not known.

How do they reproduce?

The breeding season of this bird, Hierococcyx varius, happens in the month of March till July in India, and in Sri Lanka, it occurs between the months of January to April. This bird does not build its nest and is known to be a brood parasite, that is, it lays eggs in the nest of certain other birds, and their young ones are raised by foster parents or the hosts. The clutch size is about one egg. The hosts that are preferred include laughing thrushes and babblers. The eggs laid are bluish in color.

What is their conservation status?

This bird is placed under the category of Least Concern of conservation status. Its population is stable and it is not thought to be facing any threat.

Common Hawk-Cuckoo Fun Facts

What do common hawk-cuckoos look like?

This medium-sized cuckoo is ash gray on the upper parts and whitish below. The adult is also known to have crossbars or stripes. The tail of this bird is also widely barred. This bird is known to have a unique yellow-colored ring around the eye. Subadults are known to have streaked breasts and brown marks on the belly and these marks are considered large like young shikra. They share a resemblance with shikra. This bird is confused with hawks and large common hawk-cuckoo sometimes as they share a resemblance and are related the latter belongs to the same genus. The males and females of this species tend to look similar, but males are generally larger than females.

The bars or stripes and the color of this bird are some of its recognizable features.

How cute are they?

These birds are not considered cute by people.

How do they communicate?

Communication of these birds, that is, Hierococcyx varius, takes place through different types of sounds, songs and calls produced. The female call can be explained as a series of scratching or grinding notes, whereas that of a male is loud screaming of three notes and because of this call. Males can be easily detected or heard during the summer months, sometime before monsoon, and thus, is referred to as the brain-fever bird.

How big is a common hawk-cuckoo?

The length of the Hierococcyx varius is around 13.7 in (35 cm). It is smaller than a pygmy falcon and quite a bit smaller than a golden eagle, too.

How fast can a common hawk-cuckoo fly?

The flying speed of this bird is not available. These birds are known to use the style flap and glide when flying like sparrowhawks.

How much does a common hawk-cuckoo weigh?

The weight of this bird, Hierococcyx varius, is not available.

What are the male and female names of the species?

Males and females of this bird species do not have any particular names. They can simply be referred to as a male common hawk-cuckoo and female common hawk-cuckoo.

What would you call a baby common hawk-cuckoo?

Baby birds, in general, are referred to as chicks or young ones, but the baby of common hawk-cuckoos does not have any specific names. It is just known as a baby common hawk-cuckoo.

What do they eat?

The food of these birds mainly consists of locusts, moths, grasshoppers, winged termites and ants, cicadas, caterpillars, lizards, berries, and figs. When the common hawk-cuckoos feed on caterpillars, these cuckoos tend to remove the guts of these caterpillars by pressing and rubbing them on the branch as these caterpillars contain toxins. The hairs of these caterpillars are swallowed and the separation happens in the stomach and then it is regurgitated as pellets.

Are they dangerous?

These birds are not considered dangerous.

Would they make a good pet?

,Hierococcyx varius, will not be suitable as a pet as it is wild and migratory.

Did you know...

This brainfever bird species, Hierococcyx varius is known to be arboreal and can be rarely spotted on the ground.

A novel written by Allan Sealy, an Indian author, is known to be named after this species of bird.

Some species of cuckoos are considered rare in some parts and some are quite common in certain regions.

The size of this bird is considered to be similar to that of a pigeon.

Some local names of this bird include kapak, upak, or papiha.

It has been observed that the phrase brain-fever is also inaccurately used for the Asian koel.

Why is a common hawk-cuckoo called brainfever bird?

The common hawk-cuckoo (Hierococcyx varius) is known as the brainfever bird because of its repetitive, loud, three-note call which tends to go on for a whole day until dusk.

Why do cuckoos call?

Males call generally in order to attract females and also tend to call when looking for nests to lay the eggs.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our rufous hummingbird facts and red finch facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable common hawk cuckoo coloring pages.

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Written by Akinwalere Olaleye

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

Akinwalere Olaleye picture

Akinwalere OlaleyeBachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

As a highly motivated, detail-oriented, and energetic individual, Olaleye's expertise lies in administrative and management operations. With extensive knowledge as an Editor and Communications Analyst, Olaleye excels in editing, writing, and media relations. Her commitment to upholding professional ethics and driving organizational growth sets her apart. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the University of Benin, Edo State. 

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